Friday, May 30, 2008

A pleasant day!

A few weeks ago, my boss prepared a nice little party for a co-worker and I. We were celebrating our years of service at Virginia Mason – Jackie 30 years, and me 20. I suspected that there was going to be a party and worried about that dreadful cake with the whipped cream frosting that is so popular at these events. It always looks good, and I am again and again deluded into eating some and then I recall that I loathe it. I finish it anyway, and then feel bad that I have wasted all those calories on something that I actually find disgusting. There was no cake, but there were fruits, nuts, and some really beautiful cookies. The cookies were works of art, and I am sorry not to have a picture of them. The perfect menu for such an event, in my opinion. At the start of the party, Janet, our manager said that this would be a very efficient party – a two hour party in 10 minutes. That seems to be the story of nursing these days. No time to be wasted. Jackie and I were both quite pleased with our party and our awards. Later, Janet posted this picture on the board in our report room, with a notation, “Celebrating 50 Years of Service!” Later in the day, one of our PCT’s, an infant not yet thirty – possibly not even old enough to buy a bottle of wine, came up to me and asked, ”Are you really that old? To have been working here 50 years? What age did you start?” I patiently explained that the 50 years was the total of Jackie’s and mine. Later another one came up with the same question. I have been feeling old lately, but really! I attributed inability to rightly assess a person’s age to their youth and innocence. Then a few days ago, a physician approached me in the hall. “I saw this sign,” she said, “and I was wondering……..”

A glittering day

Rebecca arrived at the crack, the very crack of dawn for our outing today. The first thing I noticed was her vibrantly white shoes. Glittering as snowfall at noon. Being her mother, I felt compelled to point this out, and she assured me that she was quite aware of their whiteness, and that was why we were going for a walk in the Arboretum today – to break them of their glistening pallor. We would walk in the mud and grime and this would give them a more natural look. We did walk in the Arboretum, more specifically, the Japanese Tea Garden. It was as lovely as ever, but there was no mud to be found. So the shoes stayed white. We went to the garden store – no mud there, but we both got some nice plants, and then to a tea drinking establishment – none there either, but they did have yummy lavender buns and jasmine tea. We went to a far flung branch of the library where we found books that we don’t see at our usual branches, but as expected, no mud at all. Then we went to the Family Kitchen where we serve dinner to the neighborhood needy every Thursday, and who should one of the guests be but the creepy man. I wasn’t totally sure it was he, so I asked Rebecca to check out his shoes. She did. “They are remarkably white!” she said. It was him.
Incidentally, washing this huge pile of dishes did the trick on the shoes. They are still white, but a nice creamier white, no longer bedazzling the onlooker.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An earthy day

Well, after the near tomatocide event and the near exhaustion digging event, there are some tomatoes planted in my garden. Tom came on Thursday and we were going to do the whole thing that day, but just the shopping was too much for us. (Any shopping at all is usually too much for me, and this shopping was particularly traumatic! See below for particulars.) So we dug a bit and were exhausted, and then I dug some more the next day and was exhausted. Then we were going to finish digging on Saturday. When Saturday came, I felt ill and so mainly watched the manly Tom dig. However, once again we were exhausted - him from digging, me from watching all that work. We still weren’t done, and so dug some more on Sunday. And of course were exhausted but exuberant. Now, I’ll wager that you are exhausted from just reading about it!
Here is a sweet little neighbor’s house which I discovered during all that digging – in the intervals when we stopped to look up and wipe the sweat from our brows, of course.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A doggy day

When Rebecca moved into her new apartment, she was not allowed to have dogs, and also, she works twelve hour days – not conducive to doggy happiness. So, she sadly relinquished custody of Margaret to Rachael and I. This was traumatic for both Rebecca and Margaret, I think, because I often felt that Rebecca loved Margaret better than her own mother (me), and Margaret definitely loves Rebecca best. She is ecstatic whenever Rebecca comes to visit her or when we have occasional outings together. I was sitting in the kitchen thinking about this, and feeling guilty because I do not shower the attention on Margaret that her mother Rebecca does. I feed her, walk her, pet her, let her sleep in my bed, cuddle her in the night, but it is not the same. Michael the cat is my boy and I think Margaret suspects this. Anyhow, I was feeling guilty, so I decided to thoroughly brush Margaret in order to assuage my guilt. I don’t think Margaret thought this was adequate atonement, but nonetheless, the results were astonishing. As you can see, there is enough hair to make another whole dog. Michael is unimpressed!

Friday, May 23, 2008

An incredibly klutzy day

As noted earlier, Tom and I planned to get an early start with our tomato planting. My initial klutziness involved sleeping till nine, and even then being unable to get myself moving so that much of our shopping and digging time was used by me dithering around. We finally arrived at the tomato store, found our tomato plants, paid for them, and as I was putting the tomatoes into the car, they suicidally leapt from the box onto the floor of the car, with a flourish of dirt, breaking half of their little necks. I could not believe it. It was really as though they had a life (beyond their generally acknowledged planty life) and a will of their own! I asked the staff person if they were guaranteed at least until the got into the car, and she said they were, so happily for me, they were replaced. I have now finally gotten over my negative feelings about the folks in this establishment. We also got huge bags of cow poop, and heavy, heavy kitty litter – the latter not related to our gardening. When we got home, I parked in front of the house so we could carry our burdens in more easily. As I was pulling up onto the grass verge, I stepped on the accelerator rather than the brake and the car lurched forward, not hitting anything, but scaring Tom badly. Oddly, I remained calm and was rather unmoved by this misadventure. Fortunately, we missed the tree that had been directly in front of us, no doubt by my clever maneuvering and stepping on the brake. We then decided to have oatmeal to stoke ourselves up for the ordeal of digging. I was bringing the butter to the table in my nice little glass butter container with the picture of a cow on it, when the lid of it too leapt out of my hand and threw itself onto my cup. I was stunned. Fortunately, my cup (of which I am very fond) was chipped only, and not totally ruined. By now, I was nervous about what would happen at the Family Kitchen with all those knives with which I could cut myself, but everything there went smoothly. Afterwards, I realized that I had forgotten my choir book. This is a major offence and usually the cause of humiliation, but my friend Barbara, the choir librarian, had an extra for me to use so that I didn’t have to rush home and fetch it. Our choir was making a recording, and this meant that we had to stand incredibly still for minutes at a time (harder than it sounds) and not rattle our pages of music when we turned them. During the final run through of one of the songs, I had the most terrific urge to cough. This happens to me at such inopportune times – like whenever I go to the opera. I was red in the face with tears dripping down as I valiantly tried to suppress the cough and not make a noise. After the take, Jim, the choir director, who is preternaturally aware of everything that is going on, looked at me and said, “You can cough now,” and told the group that I had been a martyr of restraint. I got home and to bed safely and without further mishap. Oh--- actually there was another mishap involving the terrible man mentioned several days ago, but that story is for another day!
I have hopes that today will be better, as it is noon and nothing bad has happened yet.

These pictures are from the day in the park with Samos. He took the one of me which I like, because I don’t really show.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A horticulutral day

Can you guess what this is? Yesterday, my friend Samos took me to the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Unfortunately, we got there just as it was about to close, so we had time to look at the cacti and not much else. In the center of the fern and orchid room, is a large glass ball (shades of the Wizard of Oz) on a pedestal. Actually it is so shiny that it works as a mirror. This is a picture of the ball nestled among the leaves, and if you look closely, instead of Dorothy and Toto, you can see Samos and I admiring ourselves in the reflection.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A lovely day

We celebrated Mother’s Day a week late this year, due to Becca working on the real day. She prepared us a meal fit for for queens yesterday. Spinach-cauliflower soup –totally delicious, a lovely bean dish, asparagus served with the best dressing* I have had in ages, and finally, a chocolate marble cake. Oh- and fabulous bread. She told me what the name of the bread was, and what comes to mind is “field bread” but that cannot possibly be it. I have not had a Becca cooked meal in ages, and while I was in Hawaii, I was a bit jealous thinking of Tom and Rachael partaking of all those delicacies. She and I seem to eat out together frequently, which is fun, but it is great to be served dinner by the world’s best baker and cook on occasion.

*The dressing had orange juice and pale miso in it, and I can’t remember what else, but it was out of this world. I love dressing on everything if I like the dressing, but there are very few that I like. And I can’t make any of them. Actually, I finally perfected one (honey mustard) that I like but it is nothing near as good as this one.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A devilish hot day

Yesterday was fiendishly hot! The main agenda item for the day was purchasing and planting infant tomatoes. This had seemed like a good idea earlier in the week when it was cool, if not raining. However, yesterday the weather was lovely at dawn, and this always bodes ill for the afternoon. We got a late start, and then I was whiney about even going to the tomato plant store because I knew it would hideously hot, there would be nowhere to park, and the staff would be snotty. (This latter impression lingers from when the place opened thirty years ago and was manned by a bunch of viragos who for some reason did not like me, although they all fawned over Rebecca. They are totally different people there now, but some things smart forever!) To my dismay, after all my whining and negativity, there actually was a place to park and the staff was pleasant and helpful, but, since it was late in the day, relatively speaking – those gardeners are earlybirds – the tomatoes we wanted were mostly gone. So I cleverly said, “Let’s wait till Thursday when the weather will be nice and we can get an early start.” Always put off till tomorrow what you can’t bear the thought of doing today. We made yummy soup – minestrone verde – a soup which I like to make when the first spring vegetables appear. We had tomato salad with it. The tomatoes, which looked lovely in the store and cost a fortune, were pretty pallid. This makes me eager to get those tomato plants going even if the weather is furiously hot. There re few things tastier than a nice tomato.
My friend had cajoled me into to being an usherette at an Opus 7 concert last evening. Because of the above (horrid weather, whiney ennui, etc.) I was not very enthusiastic about venturing out, but since I had said I would help out, I flogged myself (and Tom who didn’t need flogging) out the door. The concert was beyond fabulous! It was entitled “Spring Folly” and was supposed to be witty. Well, it actually was quite witty. There were pieces ranging from Thomas Morley to Britten and Ives and on to never before heard pieces. This group sings unbelievable harmony with perfection. Their choice of music is always tasteful and interesting. If you ever have a chance to hear them, grab it firmly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A creepy day

There is a frightful deranged individual who stands most nights on our street corner, raving to the world like a maddened preacher at a revival or a political extremist on Hyde Park Corner. He seems to be tireless, carrying on for hours. He rants about his perceived injustices with remarkable venom. His bitterness and bigotry are all encompassing – pan-ethnic and including every sexual persuasion. He begins when darkness falls, and is often still going at three in the morning. When I get home from work at midnight, he is there to greet me – but fortunately he seems to ignore me as I try to creep inconspicuously into the house. Then, like now, I can hear him raving from my bed. He looks a bit like a cross between an Old Testament prophet and the Uni-bomber – tall, thin, bearded- and totally creepy. I can’t imagine why he has selected our corner. It is neither busy nor really deserted, even late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. There is usually someone about, hurrying past him, pretending not to notice the unignorable. But there certainly is not a sufficient number to constitute an audience. His main audience is Rachael and I, and we are quite unenthusiastic about what he has to say. I wanted to take his picture to show you, but Rachael refused to cooperate. I thought we could go for a midnight walk and she could feign talking on her phone and could surreptitiously take his picture, just like she does of people on the bus. But she wouldn’t! So I took a picture from inside my house. It looks rather like one of those convenience store robbery videos – the ones about which the newspaper ask, “can you identify the culprit from this bunch of grey blobs?”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A gratifying day

I have absolutely nothing interesting to report. In fact, at work this evening, two of my friends and I had an argument about whose life was most boring. We never did settle on the answer. I am sure I was the winner, at least for the last few days. A Pyrrhic victory. Actually, Mother’s Day was not boring at all. So maybe I was not the winner. I got up at 4:30am to cook little Turkish breads and make deviled eggs for choir treats at the 10:00 Mass. Everything turned out nicely, thanks largely to Rebecca who gave me the menu, the recipes, and was available for technical advise at 4:45 a.m. The recipe for the Turkish breads left a bit more to the imagination than the recipes in The Bread Bible. I forgot to stretch them, despite the fact that the recipe specifically said to, and Rebecca even reminded me. So they were little puffy pillows rather than flattish cushions. Nonetheless, they were a success as were my overcooked rubbery deviled eggs. I wish I had taken a photo to show you, but I was in a state of nervous frenzy. I considered taking a picture of all the dirty dishes generated by this project - it would have been impressive - but to protect the innocent (me), I didn’t . Actually, they have been washed but are still sitting there in the kitchen. In the evening Rachael and I picked up Rebecca and my aunt and had a pleasant outing to Jamjuree (our favorite Thai restaurant) for dinner.
Knitwise, I have done mostly nothing. I just seem to go to sleep at all the potential knitting times. Sigh! Heavy sigh, in fact. Here is a pair of socks I finished recently. I made them from stash yarn which had no label. I am pretty sure it was Trekking. The pattern is my own, and one of my more successful, I think.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A frustrating day

Right now I am frustrated because a cuddly cat is lying across the arm with which I am trying to type. But that is neither here nor there. It’s business as usual. Why have I been frustrated? It is all my own fault, and the true cause is my own laziness. I have to prepare morning treats for my choir on this upcoming Sunday, and this is somewhat of a competitive event. Rebecca has been the acknowledged champion in previous years, and she is working those days, and so won’t be able to help. She has made suggestions and has given me her recipes, but I have never made any of them before, and I am a slow cooker (I don’t mean a pot, but a person!) How will I ever get it all done on time? I am so upset, that fear has cast me into a state of inaction. In years previous, the two of us have cooked for the two days prior! I have to work today, and I haven’t even done the shopping! I went to my favorite grocery store and got much of what was wanted, including these lovely peppers. They sell everything by the each, and there was no scale. I couldn’t believe it! I got what I thought might be enough, and went about whimpering from store person to store person, and finally the vegetable man said that he thought there was a cheese scale in the back. And, indeed, there was. I did not have even half the amount needed, so it is a good thing I didn’t guess. When I finished there, I should have gone to TJ’s and completed my shopping, but I was not up to it. I thought it would be much easier to do it when I was out and about after choir practice. Then the huge amount of groceries would be divided into two loads. However, on my way home late last evening, I went to Trader Joe’s to get the rest of my supplies, and the Trader was closed. Aaaaaaaaak! Someone was shutting down his power because of nearby construction, and he closed early. Now I will have to be a dynamo on Saturday, and I don’t have much dynamism within me. I shall have to pray really hard to St. Martha to get me through this. As you can see in this picture , Martha is looking a bit testy about having to do all that cooking, and that is just how I will look tomorrow!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A weary day

I have done nothing but work and clean house since I got back. I haven’t done a drop of knitting or reading. It is sad. Tomorrow is a day off, and I am going to mow the lawn. That is even more sad.

On a somewhat happier note, here is a bit of knitting for my soi-disant knitting blog which never has any knitting in it. I started this glove quite some time ago, and became discouraged because it seemed to have great potential for ugliness and promised to be too small as well. I let it lie fallow for a while, and then took it to Hawaii with me, and determined to finish at least one glove. I finished it in short order, and would have started the second one, but I couldn’t remember how to make the herringbone border. I have to confess that I didn’t try awfully hard to remember because I was so ambivalent about the whole project. Now, whether to bother making the second one at all is my question. It is indeed snug, but not uncomfortable. I could tell early on that it was going to be too small and so I added some rows of dots above the main pattern. These dots are called something disgusting like “lice,” but I don’t remember exactly what. The knitting seems a little sloppy. Since the directions were in Japanese, I had to guess about a lot of things, and had no idea what the recommended yarn was. I used some Regia Vier Fadig which I purchased years ago to make some chickie Easter decorations from “Anna.” Perhaps somewhat fatter yarn would have been better. What do you think?